With several claims such as Zachary Quinto’s return to the role of villain, the AMC series ‘NOS4A2’ adapted the novel of the same name by Joe Hill, the son of Stephen King, who has developed a successful career in literature and comics. Netflix recently announced that another of their adaptations, ‘Locke & Key’, would be continuing and it seems that this was also successful enough for a second season to premiere soon.
This story of a spiritual vampire who feeds on the happiness of children, has a growing legion of fans in its written version, but the series with Jami O’Brien as showrunner, and which co-stars the Australian Ashleigh Cummings, fails to captivate and hook as the novel, despite having a production with a good finish and a starting material that takes advantage of the gloomy side of vampires passing them to a spiritual plane, as they feed on the unhappiness of children.
Not coincidentally, his father’s book ‘Doctor Dream’, subtly adapted by Mike Flanagan, had cameos of the characters from ‘NOS4A2’, implying that the steam vampires of the sequel to ‘The Shining’ (The Shining, 1980 ) coexist in Hill’s literary universe and this may be the only point of interest of the whole set, although the main plot of the novel is respected. The protagonist is Vic McQueen, a young woman from New England who, despite the financial difficulties of her family, plans to study an artistic career at university.
The night traveler
Fleeing from the constant fights of his parents Chris (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) and Linda (Virginia Kull), he discovers that, crossing a broken old bridge, he can find supernatural lost objects, a skill that will lead him to become a threat to Charlie Manx, a vampire who feeds on the souls of children and deposits what remains of them in Christmasland, a place that is the product of his imagination in which every day is Christmas, and in which non-happiness is considered a crime.
Quinto makes an interesting Manx, made up by Joel Harlow, but ends up being too intense and stops being threatening. Part of the problem is the amount of background the villain is trying to impress that is supposed to be scary, and while composing non-one-dimensional monsters is welcome, in the case of ‘NOS4A’ it ends up diluting the threatening power of his fantastic side and part of the problem is a casting that is far from Sylar’s incarnation.
Hill’s literary work may not be as easy to reinterpret as his father’s, but the truth is that he has not yet met one that really has some sting. Neither Alexandre Aja’s visual personality or love of gender managed to inject some life into the leaden ‘Horns’ (2013), and the version of ‘Locke and Key’ that premiered on Netflix is vaguely exciting, with some visual moments. scattered that give the feeling of facing something with more entity.
A missed opportunity
The pattern is not much different in this case, and it starts to be such a recurring thread in Hill’s adaptations that the idea that the problem is dragging from the starting material really doesn’t start to seem far-fetched. ‘NOS4A2’ approaches terror with a certain apprehension, and a distance in which one can guess some disinterest even towards the fantastic. The scripts for O’Brien’s team are inclined to give gravity to the melodramatic aspect of the story that takes away any hint of humor or urgency to what is supposed to be a fast-paced adventure.
From its pilot, directed by Kari Skogland, the fantasy background is filed and every time some kind of fantastic, minimally disturbing element is filtered, within the story, the series rises whole, but these end up being reduced to giving blows of effect indicating the failed potential of adaptation. The children transformed with fierce teeth, the sinister power of the car or the prisoners under the ice floor of ‘Christmasland’ are isolated details that indicate that there was a good series somewhere.
Many turns to start involving its protagonist, whose dilemmas do not flow or interconnect harmonically with the rest of the events in the series, very concerned with presenting us secondary – and more secondary stories that go nowhere – and devoid of emotion or an imaginary that justifies its 10 episodes installed in disinterest for its scattered narrative. Punctual moments of terror and the creation of a mythology of their own are not enough to overcome ‘NOS42U’, which is half way too much.